Category Archives: writing

My summer writing schedule so far

Greetings, readers. Although I have had a number of good ideas for writing projects, getting words on the page are like pulling teeth. I yank and yank and yank, and then say oh, look, there is one sentence. Back in my 30s, before all my petit mal seizures, my creativity was much better. Ideas just flowed. I’m not certain if I really do have brain damage because of the seizures, but I feel as though I do. My medications work fine for what they are meant for but they may dampen my creative process as well.

The other day I started the sequel to Four’s a Crowd and got about a page down on the computer. I don’t know if it was because I was using the speech recognition program, or the outside noise at the time, or if something else was in the way, but words would not come easily, even with these characters that I know so well. I must admit that depressed me for the rest of the day. Kimberly, Lyle, and the rest of the Four’s a Crowd clan should have inspired me, not dragged me into the mud. Thank goodness for therapy every three weeks.

Rebecca usually tells me to just keep plugging away at it, flex those writing muscles and eventually it will come. I hope she is correct. I have my entire day planned out already. We have work hours this morning, a brief stop for lunch and a couple of groceries, and then I am going to try to work with the speech recognition program again. One of the problems might be that it hasn’t quite learned my voice enough for me to dictate a novel effectively.

My friend Dave suggested I try writing a children’s book. He was most impressed with how I, a few years ago, told his young nephews and nieces stories around the camp fire at Bear Spring Camps. Not a bad idea. And I know someone who just might be willing to illustrate it if she has time. I have already started a story, The Secret House, and have posted the first two parts of it here. I hope to write more of it and share it with you in the near future.

I’m being a little mysterious here, because I don’t want to divulge my ideas. It seems like every time I do it is the kiss of death. One time I remember telling my Godmother a story idea and she stomped the flowers out of it until it was dead. I admit that it was after one of her strokes and some of her social filters might have been gone.

I have next to me what I call my inspiration pad. If I have a dream or a day-dream and it really hits me and I have a great idea I am prepared to jot it down long hand. For as I may have mentioned before, my short-term memory is crap.

There is today’s update. Next Wednesday Rebecca and I will be back with another blog entry and I have already chosen the topic. Unless something comes up, I’m going to blog about the legendary former New York Yankee public address announcer, the late Bob Sheppard.

Until then, I hope everyone has a great weekend, take care, and happy reading.

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The Secret House, part 2, a continuation of a short story

Greetings, readers. A number of you suggested that I continue the short story I wrote and posted a couple of weeks ago and I thought that would be a good idea. It’s not exactly my four paragraph blog entry, so be prepared. Here it is and enjoy.

The Secret House – part 2

It was 9:30 in the evening again, and Toby, and his sister, Angela were sent upstairs to bed by their parents. The children pretended to look disappointed, but had secretly been planning to explore the secret house above the attic once more. Toby had shared with his sister his marvelous discovery. It was no surprise that she did not believe him.

After changing into their night clothes in their respective bedrooms, the children quietly convened near Angela’s bedroom door.

“Just wait till you see it,” Toby remarked. “You won’t believe your eyes.”

Nine-year-old Angela loved to play devil’s advocate. If her older brother said one thing, she would believe the exact opposite. When first told of the secret house above the attic, Angela thought Toby was crazy. They were about to find out who was correct.

“Switch on the lamp over there,” Toby commanded.

“Don’t boss me around,” Angela snarled. “You’re not the boss of me.”

Toby shushed his sister, deathly afraid that voices from upstairs would get an inquiry from mom or dad; the last thing Toby wanted. After Angela had switched on the light, Toby quietly slid open the closet door and moved the stepstool underneath the attic hatch door. He clicked on the closet light and told his sister that he would go up first so that he could offer her a lift if she needed it.

Toby hoisted himself up into the attic and to his joy and relief, his secret house was still there. He beamed a great smile down at his sister.

“Okay, now you got me curious,” Angela replied, as she smiled back.

The young girl heaved her way up and found herself on the lush carpeting in that lavish bedroom. “Oh my gosh.”

“See, I told you. It’s all here,” said Toby, pleased with himself that he was right and his sister was wrong. By the look on Angela’s face, her brother concluded that she wasn’t all that upset with being wrong.

“Is it okay if I have a look around?” Angela asked.

“Yeah,” Toby replied. “Just try to be quiet. We don’t want to get caught, do we?”

Angela quietly explored the bedroom for a solid five minutes. She laid on the bed, brushed her brunette hair with a hairbrush while looking into the full-length mirror, quietly opened the empty drawers, and then set back down on the bed. “What is this place?”

The two children explored every room in the house, thoroughly but quietly. Angela was amazed and delighted with everything that greeted her brown eyes. Her favorite room was the living room, where the big screen TV and air hockey table were located. “Toby, I’m dreaming, right?”

“Not unless I am too,” Toby answered. “You should’ve seen my face the first time I saw this place. My chin about hit the floor!”

With a smile, Angela quietly shushed her brother, for now he was getting excited and a bit loud. Who knows, perhaps their parents can’t hear them up here in their secret room. After the children explored every room, Angela was drawn to the front door. It still looked foggy and ominous outside. “You want to go out?” Toby asked, extending his hand.

“I don’t know,” Angela replied, with some trepidation in her voice.

Angela took Toby’s right hand and he opened the front door with his left. The two explorers walked out of the house and instantly a beautiful front yard with a white picket fence replaced the fog and mist. Angela squeezed Toby’s hand, both in fear and delight.

“Toby?” Angela began. “Tell me what you see.”

“I see a front yard with the fence, some other people in their yards, and a few cars passing by,” said Toby. “What do you see?”

“The same thing,” said Angela.

What appeared strange to the children was that the other people in their yards didn’t seem to notice the youngsters in their night clothes. One neighbor was gardening, another was mowing the lawn. There wasn’t much traffic; just the occasional vehicle pulling into a driveway.

“Toby, where in the heck are we?” Angela asked.

“I’m not sure,” Toby began. “But I’m getting freaked out. These people don’t even seem to see or hear us. It’s like we’re not even here.”

Toby clutched his sister’s hand and pulled her toward the front door of the house. Toby, one usually not to be afraid, was having difficulty wrapping his head around why the onlookers didn’t seem to see them. He decided it was time for them to go back inside. Once back inside the secret house, he closed the door. Once again, the fog outside instantly returned. Angela gasped, and took a step backwards

“Oh, that’s so creepy,” she whispered.

Making quite certain that the door was locked, Toby and his sister walked back towards the attic hatch. After sliding down back into the guest room, Toby noticed on the wall clock that again only a few minutes and gone by. “Awesome!”

The children quietly walked back to their bedrooms, gently closed their doors, hopped into bed and went to sleep. Before getting into bed though, Toby wandered should he tell his parents. He knew they would never believe him. That … is for another day.

 

I certainly hope you enjoyed part 2. As you can deduce, there will be at least one more part. Rebecca will do the blog entry tomorrow for I am taking a personal day to get ready for a weekend trip. So until I am back next Wednesday, take care, have a great weekend, and happy reading.

The Secret House, a short story

Greetings, readers. As promised, here is the short story for today’s blog entry. I hope you enjoy it. Let me know what you think in the comments section or on Facebook.

It was 9:30 in the evening, time for Toby to go to bed. The eleven-year-old still had lots of energy and going to sleep was the last thing on his mind. He wanted to explore the secret trap door he had found in the guest room closet. Toby decided to change into his more comfortable pajamas and much lighter bedroom slippers. That way Mom and Dad might not hear him sneaking around.

After changing, Toby, with flashlight in hand, quietly snuck down the hallway of the second floor. They had moved in three weeks ago and he had still not explored all the nooks and crannies. The day before, right as his mother called him for dinner, Toby discovered the hatch door in the cupboard of the guest room closet. This is where he was headed tonight.

Toby switched on the lamp which was sitting on the chest of drawers and gently closed the guest room door. He opened the closet door quietly, grasped a pull chain, and clicked on the lightbulb. He grabbed the step stool which was sitting by his right foot and gently placed it right underneath the hatch door. What surprises would he find when he opened that hatch? He might not find anything but a dusty old attic. But Toby had to know. He pushed up on the panel and moved it over to where he could hoist himself up and get his first glimpse of the surroundings. He was amazed at what he saw.

It was a lavishly decorated bedroom. Toby’s jaw dropped. He climbed up into the room and switched his flashlight off. There was a full mirror over the dresser, a huge queen-sized bed with a maroon comforter on top and many fluffy pillows. Toby very quietly called out, “Hello?” He wasn’t expecting an answer and didn’t get one. An alarm clock, lamp, and hairbrush were on one nightstand and the other nightstand just contained a small lamp which was filling the room with light. Toby wanted desperately to open up one of the dressers, but somehow thought alarms would go off so he didn’t. As he was about to head for the hatch, he noticed that there was a doorway seeming to lead to another room. He walked through.

A large living room met Toby and this room had every conceivable piece of electronic equipment you could possibly want for entertainment. There was a 60-inch big screen TV on the wall, an expensive stereo with top brand speakers, a Foosball table, and an air hockey machine. Toby whispered to himself, “I would never have to leave here.” Toby noticed another doorway.

Stepping through, he came to the kitchen and dining room area and quickly came to the realization that he had stumbled on to an entire house. Was it really all his own? Wouldn’t that be amazing. Toby searched the refrigerator and it was well stocked with good food and snacks. He panicked. Does someone really live here? Did Toby step through a door to another dimension? Did he step into the Twilight Zone? He called out hello again and got no answer.

From the kitchen he walked to a den and noticed a door that seemed to lead outside. There was a small window by the door but Toby couldn’t see out of it. All he saw was a thick white fog. Toby unlocked the door and opened it. He was almost afraid to step out. There was absolute nothingness, white fog, as far as the eye could see. Toby very quietly closed the door and made sure to re-lock it. What might be lurking on the other side scared him. Figuring he had done enough exploring for one night, he quietly walked back through the set of rooms the way he came. He lowered himself down and found the stool with his feet. He closed the hatch door, hoping his house would be there the next time he wanted to explore it. But what was outside?

Toby used the bathroom before returning to his bedroom, just in case his parents heard footsteps. As he jumped into bed, he was surprised that only a few minutes had passed since he had changed into his pajamas. Maybe I will call this the Toby Dimension, he thought to himself as he closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep.

There is the first of a least a few short stories that the blog will showcase. I just thought I’d try my hand at it, to limber up the creative muscles. I hope you enjoy it, and as always, Rebecca and I will see you next week, so do take care, have a great weekend, and happy reading.

Getting into someone else’s head is difficult

Greetings, readers. The last couple of mornings I have been working on my writing projects and I can’t tell you how good it feels to be writing again. One of my projects is based on a TV series from the 1970s. Those characters I know quite well; what they would say, what they wouldn’t say, how they would act, etc.

My main project, however, has characters that are pretty much blank slates. The female lead character is based on someone I met in a chat room many room many many years ago. She sent me her picture but that is literally all I have to go on, the rest of her character will be constructed by me. I’ve never tried to get into a female character’s head before. You might say I wrote my play Kimberly, and this is true. But I knew the person I based her on. The whole first draft was basically a carbon copy of a friend from high school. This new project’s female lead has a name and a face. That’s it. I get to decide how tall she is, whether or not she smokes, what her habits are, and how provocative she is. In a way, I have to become this character during writing hours. I was working with this project this morning and I could feel myself begin to think like her and thought to myself, now we are in business. I know I am going to have fun with it.

It’s been years since I have put signs on my front door saying Do not disturb, I’m writing, and I even get angry if I am writing and it is time to go to work. To me those are good signs. If I can go to some cabin near a lake … magically with internet included for research … I would do it and I could probably pump out a great play or film script. I just need to be left alone for a few months. Unfortunately I am not independently wealthy, and besides that is not how the real world works. Moreover, I like my real world job.

I got a sobering dash of reality a few moments ago. Rebecca and I were on the CreateSpace website trying to send an email to get a question answered. As we were going through the automated set-up system, a huge list dropped down with not only my three books for sale but all the stalled, dead, abandoned projects I’ve tried to do since latching on to CreateSpace. Seeing that list made me feel like a failure for a moment. Don’t worry, I’ll bounce back soon. As a matter of fact, now that I know where that list is, I might even go back, choose one of those dead projects, and resurrect it. You never know.

The idea I had for tomorrow’s blog has been put on the back burner, for it requires research and development. It deals with this past Super Bowl. I think you will find it most interesting. I just found out moments ago that I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow. So yet again, Rebecca will get the day off and post the entry from home. We will see you right here next Wednesday. Keep those comments coming, enjoy, take care, and as always, happy reading.

My speech recognition software finally came in

Greetings, readers. Every penny that I spent on Nuance Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium voice recognition software was well worth it. It only took fifteen minutes for the program to learn my voice well enough so that I could dictate an email. Most impressive. I think this is going to be the shot in the arm I need to get my writing career going again. I have a couple of ideas, I just have to get them going. I’m going to talk to my boss at work and see if I can’t take a few months off. Walking to buses in the brutal cold and snow and/or ice, is something my handicapped body is not looking forward to. Call my a wimp if you want to, but I think I will ask if I can return in the springtime.

This voice recognition program has a feature that I was not expecting. It will read back to me what I dictated … in my own voice. Rebecca had an overwhelming reaction because it reminded her of something she heard about the late movie critic Roger Ebert, who had mouth cancer and lost the ability to talk. When they added a feature to his typing equipment that used his own voice from previous recordings to read out his words, his wife cried the first time she heard it, as it had been so long since she had heard his voice. I can talk just fine, I just can’t type or write longhand for any length of time.

While I got this software on sale, it wasn’t exactly $9.99, so believe me when I tell you I’m going to make good use of it.

The first project I have in mind to use it for is a book about former sports stadiums that have been demolished and what the land is used for now. The idea hit me last week in the middle of the night. It woke me enough to take a couple of notes about it. That is how I knew it was going to be a good idea. I love sports, classic things such as stadiums, and it is going to be such fun to learn about and report what’s on those sites. Old stadiums have long been an interest of mine, for I have been a sports buff since I was a child. In 2013, I did a top ten list on stadiums that have gone by the wayside, and was interested to see that many of the stadiums on the list are ones I want to research for the new book.

If I can get that voice recognition program to work without much hassle, I think this might be the project that kicks me in the proverbial butt. Cross thy fingers.

On a side note, I finished binge-watching the second part of the third season of Fuller House. A very cute season and already we can see the children growing up. The middle kids are in high school already. Good grief. SPOILER ALERT: Stephanie and boyfriend Jimmy are trying to get pregnant with Kimmy Gibbler as the surrogate. The final scene of the season finale was sweet and touching. With the announcement that Kimmy has baby on board that leads me to believe that there is definitely going to be a fourth season. I already can’t wait.

Okay, there you are up to date with what is going on with me. I am in a heck of a better mood than I was yesterday. It’s now time to go feed Kitty who’s been very good, edit this blog and post it.

Until next week, take care, have a good weekend, and happy reading.

Rebecca and I have been working together for 7 years tomorrow

Greetings, readers. I can’t believe it has been seven years already since Rebecca agreed to be my typist and editor. That job quickly morphed into personal assistant, but that is okay. The main job is writing. After almost seven years together, we have put out over 600 blog entries, three books, and part of a book (written by Rebecca’s husband Darren) based on a play I wrote before we started working together. Oh, and by the way, that book is coming soon.

Yes, we’re very excited about Four’s a Crowd. Although we still have one or two edits to go, I’ve read the project and it is awesome. You’ll love it. Very soon Rebecca is going to begin putting it into the CreateSpace formatted templet, cutting and pasting each chapter in place, and we need to write a book description, before uploading the file to the publisher. Then it will be time to order proofs and we are going to do our final edit right on the pages. Proofs are never for sale, so what the heck, let’s mark them up.

When the book comes out, I’m going to go to Webster’s bookstore across the street and ask the owner, a personal friend of mine, if she would take several copies on consignment and push them. The worst thing she could say is no. I already have a few people from Facebook who I will go out on a limb and say will be guaranteed buyers. I have one phrase for you folks: Spread the word … please.

I’m extremely excited about this project, and Darren, who had lost all hope when things were moving slowly, has renewed enthusiasm as well. I’m not going to set an exact release date, but let’s just put it in the ballpark of January or February of 2018. I think we can do it. Updates as they happen.

Finally, prayers and good wishes go out to those families affected by the California wild fires, and by Hurricane Nate. I don’t know how long those fires will burn, but from what I saw on TV, they have already ruined several wine vineyards. Expect the price of wine from California to skyrocket. Also, an R.I.P and condolences to Tom Petty, a great singer, and his grieving family and friends.

Until tomorrow, have a wonderful day, take care, and happy reading.

When I’m writing I hate the red squiggles

Greetings, readers. Yesterday was a slower day on my writing project than I hoped for but I was working on my character sheets. Two days ago when I was typing I made a number of typos and as usual the spell checker put red squiggles under them. Some people can ignore that; I am not one of those people.

Every time a word is misspelled I must go back and correct it. It’s just a thing with me. What I should do is press on, ignore it, and fix the mistake later. In time when my writing flow is better I am sure I will do this. To aid me as I am trying to get into my flow, I’m going to look for the option to turn the spell checker completely off. I know that option exists. Even though I am only on page 11, I still feel like I am in second gear, where I write everyday, I can see the action in my head, and the words come easily. With yesterday being a not so great writing day, today must be better. I cannot lose my momentum.

Here’s how today is going to go. Rebecca and I will work until 12:45, then it is off to the pharmacy to get a few items, after that I will meet Traci for a quick snack, and then I will begin my work. I’ll need to stop around 6pm, because I am calling bingo tonight at 7:00. I’ll probably get back from bingo about 9:00 and then I’ll read and watch TV to relax and wind down. I find that if I’ve worked hard on my book I enjoy my off time that much more.

Our area is once again in the national news. Though I will not go into that much detail, I was very angry to see that the son of Jerry Sandusky was charged with a sex crime similar to what the Penn State’s former defensive coordinator was convicted of. Here we go again. More accusations, more trials, and another black eye for Penn State. I’m just tired of it now.

Finally, as I approach my 600th blog entry, which will be posted sometime in mid-March, I wish to ask if you, my readers, have any topic you would like me to cover. If I get a good list from folks, I will choose one and blog about it for the 600th entry.

That’s all the news for today. Until next Wednesday, have a fantastic weekend, take care, and, as always, happy reading.

Mini snow storm over and novel’s chapter two is going well

Greetings, readers. I woke up to roughly 3 inches or so of snow on the ground. It was no surprise. Everyone knew it was coming, the question was just how much. We were in the 3 to 6 inch range, but I think we got the smaller amount of what was predicted.

Snow is pretty when it first comes down, but after the cars roll around in it and make it black, it is disgusting. Also, with my bad balance, slush and ice are not my friends.  When there is any amount of snow that is more than a dusting, I stay inside. It’s just not worth me breaking a leg over. Anything I need at the store, I can get the night before or the day after.

It is late morning as I am using my speech recognition program to dictate this entry, and the snow has already stopped. Now it is just cold and slippery. After I’m done dictating, I shall save this entry to draft and get it ready for Rebecca to edit. I expect that she will post it sometime in the mid to late afternoon.

As far as my new writing project goes, oh boy, am I off to a hot start. Today is a little slower than yesterday as far as production, but it’s still early. I plan to work until at least two or three this afternoon. With over 2,100 words so far, it is certainly my best start in years. What do you know, writing is fun again. Yay! 🙂

I am going to continue to plug away at it until the ideas don’t come anymore. Hopefully, that won’t be for a very long time. I’ve got a great idea for this novel. The more I write, the more excited I get about the project. I shall keep you all up to date in the coming weeks.

Until next week, have a great weekend, be safe if you’re in the snow, and happy reading.

Novel underway and coming along nicely

Greetings, readers. For the first time in many years I am absolutely psyched about a project, other than the blog or one of my performances. In the last two days I have written six pages and 2,100 + words. About a month ago I had an idea for a novel and I just decided to go for it. I do understand that six pages does not usually equal a chapter, but I got to a good stopping point, and it is still a first draft. The first draft is what I call creating the skeleton. Once I have the skeleton in place, I can add the muscles and tendons, the skin, and the features. In other words, I can flesh it out, no pun intended.

Without going into too much detail and ruin anything, it is a paranormal story. I am quite intrigued by that phenomenon. Unfortunately, readers, I am going to keep details to myself for now. I shall share little tidbits as the book progresses. As some of you may know, beginnings of my projects have always been my bugaboos. If I can just pop it into second gear, I’ve got a chance. And yesterday, for the first time in years, I felt that gear click in.

Another huge thing that I did which I believe will be a major plus, was to use my computer calendar to set up what I call work shifts. Just as if I was going to work at a store or café, I set up blocks of time to put my butt in the chair and type. So far so good. Yesterday I was supposed to work until 2pm – okay, okay, I conked out at 12:45, but for me that was a good start. It is going to take a while for me to build up writing stamina but it will happen.

Most writers write an outline and know exactly where their writing project will go next. I don’t. Which is probably why I have failed so much. I’ve always been the kind of person to take a story to a certain point in my mind, write it down, and then see where the story goes next. Although it is only the first six pages in the first draft, I am getting the sense that my characters are a bit flat. When I wrote my play Kimberly, poor Lyle Detmore never did come to life, until Rebecca’s husband Darren turned the project into a novel. Now there is a writer for you. This time I have hope that the editing process down the road will help me with this problem.

The photographs from my latest show, which was on December 2, 2016, are now up on the Performance Pictures page. I proposed to Traci in between the sets, and I have included a couple of pictures with the two of us. Please feel free to check them out.

On a side note, condolences go out to the family of the Penn State student who passed away the other day at one of the fraternities. It was a horrible tragedy. No parent should have to bury their child.

Well, there is today’s blog entry. I will working on my writing project today from 2pm to 5pm. Wish me luck that the engine keeps running. I will put a new blog entry up tomorrow, I am taking a personal day to write more on my story and Rebecca will edit the blog entry from home and post it.

Until then, have a great day, take care, and happy reading.

Every time I see a writer

Greetings, readers. Many times when I go to Panera café I see a gentleman who is a hard-core writer. His name is Steve, last name unknown. He has a ritual kind of like mine. He selects his favorite table, purchases his food, gets out his paper and pen, and starts to write. Whether he is taking notes, working on a story, or just doing a writing exercise, I have no idea. My point is that he writes. That’s the difference between Steve and I.

Here’s what I do. I select my favorite table, get my food, open my computer, check my emails, listen to music, chat on the phone, you get the idea. I do anything but write. At 51 years old, I’m almost ashamed to call myself a writer. Yes, I’ve written three books and a play, so I suppose that qualifies me as an author. I so desperately want more. The problem is at the current moment my body and brain are not quite cooperating. I’m going to look into computer software that allows me to speak into a microphone and the program will type what I say. My laptop has a speech recognition program but it has many flaws. I have difficulty getting into any flow. A trip to Best Buy will be forthcoming.

On today’s schedule is this: After the blog entry is done, Rebecca and I will fill out paperwork for an upcoming foot doctor’s visit, then it is monthly office cleaning day. After Rebecca leaves, I might even run the vacuum, ha ha. This afternoon I have a bank run to make and I must stop at the pharmacy. This has the potential to be an expensive day; I must begin to pay off my deductible for the new insurance year. Finally, tonight I will call bingo. I missed my last turn so I promised the gang that I will call the next two Thursday evenings. We all have to do our share.

What I am going to do this weekend is concentrate – perhaps even writing it down – on making a daily schedule that always includes writing, even if that means taking out such things as flight simulation, Facebook chatting, or YouTube watching. I’ve said it before but every day the feeling gets worse. I must either be a serious writer soon, or pull the plug and get a full-time job somewhere.

On a sad note, a very special RIP to the legendary actress and dancer Mary Tyler Moore, 1936-2017, who passed away yesterday. She will be greatly missed.

Next week Rebecca and I will be back with you with two more exciting blog entries. So take care, have a great weekend, and as always, happy reading.